Robert Blake in Blood Feud (1983)

Bad Blood

I was only 2 years old when Jimmy Hoffa disappeared and because of this and because Hoffa's story was one of corruption in America I have never really been that interested in watching a movie about him. But after stumbling across "Blood Feud" a 210 minute mini-series/TV movie from 1983 about the battle between Robert Kennedy and Jimmy Hoffa I thought why not. That may sound daft but I thought that maybe by being so long there would be enough depth to "Blood Feud" so that for those who like me have only heard of the name Jimmy Hoffa and the unsolved case of his disappearance would be able to follow. And that is exactly what you get, you get a detailed but by no means heavy dramatization which starts in the mid 1950s and goes through to 1975 and Hoffa's disappearance.

Now I am not going to go in to detail over what happens as there is a lot which goes on in 210 minutes but what we witness is how Robert Kennedy is working in Washington investigating corruption in labor and using his brother Senator Jack Kennedy to then become part of a committee investigating crime syndicates and their illegal ties to unions. At the same time we also see how Jimmy Hoffa became increasingly more powerful within the Teamster organization so powerful that when proceedings are brought against him he has enough power to put pressure on those who could testify against him. There is more than that and during the movie we see Jack Kennedy become elected and assassinated and plenty more.

Cotter Smith in Blood Feud (1983)

Now as I said one of the strengths of "Blood Feud" is that at three and a half hours it has the time to go in to depth on the story and at the same time paying enough attention to the basics of who the characters are. It means that for those who if you like are watching because it is a movie rather than for what it is about will be able to follow what is going on without having to search the internet to find information to fill in the usual missing details. And to be honest the story of Robert Kennedy's investigations into organized crime and corruption within unions is an interesting one as is the story of Jimmy Hoffa.

Of course some people might be put off by the fact "Blood Feud" is a TV movie/mini-series and an old one at that. But firstly it has held up pretty well visually and that is because it doesn't feel rushed, from the look, to the dialogue you can see that there has been plenty of attention to detail especially in what words are used. Now it has to be set that it never has that epic quality of a big screen movie, you can tell there have been some budget restraints but the lack of flare never spoils it.

A big reason why "Blood Feud" still holds up comes down to the acting especially that of Robert Blake who delivers a fantastic portrayal of Jimmy Hoffa as a muscular bruiser who intimidates people and acts like a mob boss. It is stunning from start to finish from watching Hoffa's rise to power in the Teamsters but also his decline and how when cornered he would aggressively thrash out both verbally and physically. In fact "Blood Feud" belongs to Robert Blake with Cotter Smith as Robert Kennedy doing a good job but lacking the same intensity which Blake brings to his performance. Aside from these two there are some other well known names and faces in the movie with Danny Aiello, Lance Henriksen, Brian Dennehy and also Ernest Borgnine show up in various minor roles.

What this all boils down to is that "Blood Feud" is a good TV movie/mini-series and I say that because it managed to keep me interested in a story I knew nothing about other than names. But much of that is down to Robert Blake who is mesmerising as Jimmy Hoffa.